Learn how to resolve conflict through role play


Mediation is a technique which people can use to help others resolve disputes and conflicts.  This activity is about learning the basics of mediation, but be aware that you should not embark on doing any mediation without a proper support system in place, and. knowledge of what to do if someone discloses something that could be dangerous or criminal.

The Four Steps of Mediation

There are a few simple steps that are followed when mediating. Start by reading through them and seeing whether you understand them all.

1. Introduction

a. Introduce yourselves as mediators.
b. Ask those in the conflict if they would like your help in solving the problem.
c. Find a quiet area to hold the mediation.
d. Ask for agreement to: Try to solve the problem; No name calling; Let the other person finish talking; Confidentiality

2. Listening

a. Ask the first person “What happened?” Paraphrase what they say.
b. Ask the first person how they feel. Reflect their feelings.
c. Ask the second person “What happened?” Paraphrase.
d. Ask the second person how they feel. Reflect their feelings.

3. Looking for solutions

a. Ask the first person what they could have done differently. Paraphrase.
b. Ask the second person what they could have done differently. Paraphrase.
c. Ask the first person what they can do here and now to help solve the problem. Paraphrase.
d. Ask the second person what they can do here and now to help solve the problem. Paraphrase.
e. Use creative questioning to bring them closer to a solution.

4. Finding solutions

a. Help both people find a solution they feel good about.
b. Repeat the solution and all of its parts and ask if both agree.
c. Congratulate both people on a successful mediation.

Once you have read through the steps, talk them through to check your understanding of them.

You might like to think about the following things>

  • Who would be a good person to mediate? Who would be a bad person to mediate?
  • How might we know the right time to intervene? And the right place?
  • How would you feel if you offered to mediate and were rejected? What would you do?
  • Why is privacy and confidentiality important? What would happen if it was public?
  • How would you cope if the things people said in mediation were difficult to hear?

Role Play

Read through the following situation, and briefly discuss what might have happened and how the disputants might be feeling:

Pat and Lou are good friends. Pat broke up with their partner and told Lou the story including all the events that led to the breakup. Later Pat found out the story had got around and blamed Lou for the gossip, telling Lou they would never be friends again.

Ask two people to role play as Pat and Lou, and one to be the mediator. Have them role-play the conflict above and the mediator offer help using the “Steps for mediation” activity sheet.

After the role-play, discuss as a group.

  • What went well? Could anything have gone differently?
  • What caused the conflict? What helped to resolve it?
  • Was the mediation helpful?

You might want to come up with some other situations within the group and try role playing those too. Each time use the reflection questions to discuss how it went, and what could have gone differently.

Take it Further

If you enjoyed exploring mediation, you might want to flex your debating skills, or try Flip-Flopping.

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